Staphylococcus aureus necrotizing pneumonia is a life-threatening disease that is frequently preceded by influenza infection. The S. aureus toxin Panton–Valentine leukocidin (PVL) is most likely causative for necrotizing diseases, but the precise pathogenic mechanisms of PVL and a possible contribution of influenza virus remain to be elucidated. In this study, we present a model that explains how influenza virus and PVL act together to cause necrotizing pneumonia: an influenza infection activates the lung epithelium to produce chemoattractants for neutrophils. Upon superinfection with PVL-expressing S. aureus, the recruited neutrophils are rapidly killed by PVL, resulting in uncontrolled release of neutrophil proteases that damage the airway epithelium. The host counteracts this pathogen strategy by generating PVL-neutralizing antibodies and by neutralizing the released proteases via protease inhibitors present in the serum. These findings explain why necrotizing infections mainly develop in serum-free spaces (eg, pulmonary alveoli) and open options for new therapeutic approaches.